While adapting these transcripts into an easy-to-read “interview” format, slight creative liberties have been taken.
April 12, 2011
AWKMusic: Thanks for setting this up.
Andrew W.K.: Sure, thanks for everything you’ve been doing.
AWKMusic: So how’s your day going?
Andrew W.K.: Everything is good, it’s a beautiful day here in Los Angeles, it’s very sunny. I have some meetings and things tomorrow. We are continually filming Destroy Build Destroy, which is the main reason I’m out here. I’ve also been recording out here for the new album. So you have some specific questions right?
AWKMusic: Yes, one item of yours I was most interested in was what fans call the “We Want Fun” album. There’s not a lot of information on it because it was never released. So if you had any clarification on that, it would be helpful.
Andrew W.K.: Yea sure I’ll just tell you the whole thing. So as you are aware the first thing I ever released as “Andrew W.K.” was a 12″ with Wolf Eyes, as far as using that name on a release. After that came the Part Til You Puke 12″. Even before Party Til You Puke was recorded I had already recorded most if not all of the songs on We Want Fun, which was going to be my debut album on Bulb Records.
I had already moved to New York and I had been living, working and traveling back and forth to Providence Rhode Island where Bulb Records was based at that time. Of course Pete Larson [owner of Bulb Records] and I had first met in Ann Arbour, Michigan where he was first set up. I traveled up to Providence all the time to work with him, play shows, and do everything else. So I had a selection of songs… do you remember is it ten songs on there?
AWKMusic: I think there are twelve.
Andrew W.K.: Because there are a whole bunch of other songs that I don’t think that are on there. For example, the version you have does it have a song called “They Ruined Our Lives”?
AWKMusic: Nope. (I have since speculated that this may have been an early version for the song “The End of Our Lives”?)
Andrew W.K.: OK yea, I’m trying to remember now what the whole idea was because I prepared another group of tracks that I still have, that I found. I don’t have the original masters or original mixes to work with but I do have versions of the CDs, while I was working with those albums. There was a bunch of other songs that I guess I didn’t put on there, but did consider working with from the same era. So what songs are on that one, do you have the complete track listing?
AWKMusic: Yea, it’s pretty much a mix between I Get Wet and The Wolf songs, the version that I have is:
- It’s Time To Party
- Free Jumps
- Girls Own Juice
- Your Rules
- She Is Beautiful
- Tear It Up All Night
- I Love Music
- Kill Yourself
- Don’t Stop Living In The Red
- Party Music
- I’m Totally Stupid
- Party Hard
Andrew W.K.: OK right, if I remember correctly I recorded and wrote the Party Til You Puke EP after all those songs were recorded. I could be incorrect, but I believe that is the case. I wanted to release Party Til You Puke [the EP] first because I had been playing shows using material that sounded a lot like that—-the drum machine and keyboard based music. Those were some of my first shows I was first playing as “Andrew W.K.”, both in Providence and New York. So I thought it made sense to connect what I had been doing, or what people had been suggesting me doing in the beginning, with that first release. Then we went to the next stage which was the We Want Fun album, but at that point I had already met my A&R guy at Island Records and decided to sign with him. Island Records bought out the contract I had with Pete and gave him money. Then we started approaching the [Island Records] album using what was going to be the We Want Fun album as a starting point. A lot of the song versions on We Want Fun are actually from the same versions that appeared on I Get Wet. Even some elements from songs on The Wolf are actually from the same recordings, just with more work done on them. Even Party Til You Puke [the song on I Get Wet] had been taken from the original version on the EP.
AWKMusic: Yea you can tell that elements from We Want Fun are embedded on I Get Wet.
Andrew W.K.: Yea exactly. Sometimes I didn’t have a lot of pieces to work with because several times during my recordings of all of the first Andrew W.K. stuff, I lost my hard drive. So all I had to work with was just some stereo rough mixes—-I learned the hard way. But it wasn’t too tragic, there’s a lot of stuff throughout my whole life that I lost and wish I still had. But over the years I’ve gotten better at keeping everything, trying to organize it and trying to back it up. That’s just one of the stressful things about working in general, trying to keep track of all the work you do. It’s not always the case that the best stuff ends up being the stuff that hangs around, gets archived or gets released in a way that preserves itself. Sometimes I think there’s really good things that just get lost, even if it’s just an idea that you didn’t have the ability to remember, write down or record. But at the same time, the best stuff you always remember does stick around but I always wish I could hear earlier things.
AWKMusic: That album sounds like an extension of the Girls Own Juice EP (AWKGOJ), it sounds very much the same.
Andrew W.K.: Yea I think all those songs were recorded at the same time, the same exact setup and the same recording system. There were definitely songs that I wrote after AWKGOJ EP which were going to be on We Want Fun album. But I think at the same time, there were a lot of songs that were written and already recorded which were all done around the same time. I just put some on AWKGOJ and saved the rest for the Bulb album.
I’m glad that album didn’t come out at that time, I was really relieved that it didn’t. I wouldn’t be opposed to putting it out now, it’s not that I didn’t want people to hear it. It has things about it that I really like in many, many, many ways but back then as far as a first full-length album I’m glad we did I Get Wet.
AWKMusic: Once Island approached you, it probably made a lot of sense to withhold it and save it up for I Get Wet.
Andrew W.K.: Yea and by that point I also realized I could make things sound, in my mind, even better or at least different. When I recorded We Want Fun & AWKGOJ, that was my first time I really dove into recording. I was learning so much as I went that just by the time that even two years had passed I realized I could do even more or better, in terms of the sound I was trying to go for. I wanted it to be really hard-hitting and that’s what we did with I Get Wet. After I did that, to be honest, with The Wolf I didn’t want the album to be as hard hitting. I wanted it to be a bit more like the feelings that were on the We Want Fun album. The song “Totally Stupid” to me, defined the feelings that I was trying to get the majority of the time on The Wolf. Which is a feeling that I don’t really think appears as distinctly on I Get Wet. It’s more emotional but I Get Wet is more moving in a joyful and energizing way. But I wanted The Wolf to be moving in every way. It’s every emotion, it’s that feeling of just being overwhelmed. Like it would make you cry, but if someone asked “are you sad?”, you wouldn’t say you were sad. You’re just overwhelmed with this feeling of emotion.
Close Calls With Brick Walls was an attempt to really synthesize both of those things, both of those feelings. It appeared as kind of a raw energy coupled with a some kind of an emotional and human feeling. I wanted to really talk about just being a human being. Now with this new album I’m trying to combine everything of my own work going all the way back to Party Til You Puke. I feel like it was a natural desire to do that. I want the emotion from The Wolf, I want the power from I Get Wet, I want the electronic manic quality from Party Til You Puke and the musical arrangement approach of Close Calls With Brick Walls.
AWKMusic: Yea even on your new EP [The Party All Goddamn Night EP] I can see it reverting back to some elements of Party Til You Puke with its dance beat on some tracks.
Andrew W.K.: Yeah absolutely, I’m taking entire approaches that I haven’t used in a few years but always loved, and have a newfound appreciation for. As well as certain recording approaches that I’ve taken. Like how I would do guitars and the way I would layer things. For most of the music it’s usually been an attempt to remove the sense of any instruments or any performance. All you hear is the song as sort of a sound itself, just one total sound. You’re not really thinking about who is playing bass or how the guitar player is playing that one chord or that one note. It just washes over you and there’s not really the time or enough separation to examine it in that way.
I do like music that is the exact opposite of that but that’s just the thing that I do. On Close Calls With Brick Walls, that was the first time I wanted to listen. I wanted myself to be able to hear people playing the music. And I love it, and am really glad with it, and I’ll make an album like that again. Actually the next album. I have two other albums in the works, and then I have another album that’s an instrumental rock album. That’s the one that I’m really gonna go even more over the top with.
Because sometimes there’s a place for personality and individuality and performance in a song or in a recording. But I think sometimes there’s not, sometimes it just gets in the way of the song itself. I have a lot of respect for the song and the recording and not as much respect for the players or how they perform, or how they approached it, or their style. That is not what I’m looking to do with this music. It’s not about impressing someone with how fast you can play a scale or anything else. It has never been important for me to tell people about how I play, what I play, or if I can play well or not. I don’t care if people think I can play piano well. I’ve made efforts to try to show that I don’t play well, because I don’t want it to be about instrumental players. It’s about the feeling of this recording, of this song, of this thing, and everybody else is just a part of that. I mean of course you always respect a great mechanic with what they are able to do, the tools that they happen to use and how they approach repairing a machine. But at the end of the day it’s how the machine works, how it gets done what you want that machine to get done. Everybody else is just serving the cause of that machine. I think the song is like a machine and I’m just a mechanic. Everybody else is there just to serve that song and not just show off how they can serve it or how good they are at getting to that place, because that’s just distracting.
AWKMusic: Yea so obviously that’s been a good approach and you have had success doing it that way. Nick Sheehan [a long time fan] mentioned how he noticed, and in retrospect I’ve noticed too, how each release is almost completely different than the previous one. I love that, it’s incredible to listen to such a diverse discography and enjoy it.
Andrew W.K.: Well that’s very nice and I appreciate that. It’s not always been intentional, I’ve never approached something like “OK we have to do this one different than the last one”. It’s just “I want to do this” and then it comes out however it comes out. I really want it to be the best sounding thing it could be. Whatever I think that is at the time, is what the result will be.
I also appreciate listening to records I love which sound different from other records by the same artists. Even if it’s a different production style. You know it’s funny because if you listen, and of course these are changing times, but if you listen to an artist on an iPod or any kind of shuffle playback where it’s taking songs from all over their work and a series of albums, that can be rather alarming. Because they’ll have totally different frequency ranges. Where one will be very mid-range-y, one will be all blown out and treble-y, one is half quiet and one album is louder. But I love all of that! Like you’re saying, it’s the spice of life! It’s not always comfortable and it’s not always settling, but I don’t want that out of culture or art. I don’t want to be comforted or soothed or settled or made to feel OK. That is just a personal preference that I have, but I would not be being true to myself if I didn’t approach my work in that same way. This music is not meant to comfort you, that is not its feeling.
There is great music out there that I love that is comforting, even if it’s an artist like Charné or something. But that’s not what this is and that’s not what my passion as an individual is and you always have to stay true to your vision. Part of that is always shaking things up, always shaking up yourself. I never want to feel comfortable, the only thing I want to feel comfortable in is being uncomfortable. Because that’s when you can grow and expand your mind and realize that you don’t need to cling to any of these things to still be yourself and have a fun time.
AWKMusic: I have one more question about the We Want Fun album. I emailed a guy who said that when you were passing it out, his copy had some artwork on it. It was of some painting of a girl, so there is artwork for it too?
Andrew W.K.: Yes! That’s correct and I’ve remembered this before but I’m glad you reminded me about it again. It is true that at the same time while manufacturing copies of “AWKGOJ”, I had made semi-professionally duplicated copies of We Want Fun done. It did feature what I intended to be the album artwork, which I still have the photos for–thank god. It was a fairly large scale painting of a girl’s face, which you can see a small portion of on the back of the Girls Own Juice [AWKGOJ] album. I painted it the way as it appears on the back cover, which is of a very beautiful girl’s face. She’s wearing sunglasses and she has a band-aid on her face with little hearts on it. Then I actually painted over that same painting and turned her face into half-of-a-skull-face with a really bad bloody nose, blood all over the place, and one of her eye balls was popping out. The glasses were shattered, the band-aid that had once been on her cheek was now wrapped around her glasses trying to hold them together. I still have very good quality photos of it. So that was going to be the front cover of the album and the back cover was going to be the bloody version. I actually cut that painting off of its canvas and frame and give it to Pete Larson, so I just pray that he still has it. I use to give away all my paintings and all my artwork to my friends, I hope they still have them. I gave away some really good paintings and some really cool clothes that I made and painted too.
AWKMusic: So it sounds like the same concept in Close Calls With Brick Walls where you have one picture on the front and the backside is different.
Andrew W.K.: Yea I never thought about that, but yes that’s a good observation. It’s something obviously very basic, you know there’s one way and there’s another way.
AWKMusic: Do you remember the release dates of AWKGOJ and Party Til You Puke?
Andrew W.K.: I think the albums have the dates on them, I believe that Party Til You Puke was 1999 and AWKGOJ was 2000. That sounds right to me, if not it would be like 1998 and 1999. But I think it was 1999 and 2000 because I Get Wet came out in 2001 in the UK and in 2002 for the rest of the world.
AWKMusic: So is that when you recorded it or is that the actual release dates, because I always thought it went AWKGOJ and then Party Til You Puke after.
Andrew W.K.: Oh really?! OK well you know, you could be right, I don’t remember that. I do remember an interesting story with the Party Til You Puke LP after they had just been manufactured. For some reason we had all the copies, like my share of the 12” inches, sent to my parents house. I remember that they were all going to be recalled because the whole album cover was going to be changed to be “Steev Mike” and say “Steev Mike – Party Til You Puke”. In the end it didn’t end up happening which of course was a huge relief and all for the best. Hmm… that makes me think that might have been after I had moved around and started working with Island even. It’s very tricky for me to say, my sense of time as maybe you’ve heard isn’t the best. I remember lots of events very clearly and details about all these experiences but as far as what happened when and which is first is difficult. Especially at that time because things were very, very condensed. There was a lot happening over a very short period of time, which makes it seem like a long time had passed but it could have been only two months.
AWKMusic: Yea, it does seem like that time was jam-packed, I mean you were touring very soon after or even before I Get Wet.
Andrew W.K.: Yea, yea the touring and the touring didn’t stop. That was the other thing, we really didn’t get off the road until 2005.
AWKMusic: So did the CD and the 12″ come out the same time?
Andrew W.K.: No, no they were definitely separated for sure. For example I remember on AWKGOJ, we never really did any promotion for it. That is what is odd about it, we didn’t make any posters that I remember, there wasn’t any promotion and I didn’t do any interviews. Not that I had any idea or any expectation that I would do any of those things. The thing I remember very clearly when we put out Party Til You Puke is that we did really awesome posters, we did interviews, we did my first interview ever. It was more “out there” and that may have just been Pete Larson taking more initiative and reacting to any feedback we were getting from Girls Own Juice. But it’s very weird, I always thought it was Party Til You Puke first and then Girls Own Juice. But I don’t know, I really don’t know, the dates on the releases would be the only way to tell.
AWKMusic: OK my last question for today, can you tell me about this 4 Track Promo? [shows picture]
Andrew W.K.: Those are midway mixes, they sound different than the other versions right?
AWKMusic: The only one that sounds different is “FreeJumps”, its version is exclusive to this promo.
Andrew W.K.: Well “Free Jumps” we had originally been working on for I Get Wet with Scott Humphrey who was producing the album. I have actually just reconnected with him after not having seen him since 2001. Which was awesome and he’s doing great. So he was the producer and he was working on that, but we just didn’t put the song on I Get Wet and I said “I’ll save that for the next album”. We had a lot of songs that we didn’t put on there, as you’re aware.
So that was just my publishing company sending out a rough sampler of some songs that were in the works, to get people excited. They do that from time to time. It’s a bit unusual because as you’ve seen, these versions get out there and it’s kind of confusing and for some artists who care about that kind of thing, they could be really upset. Like why would you release this rough version!? But I was OK with it and I’ve usually been OK with releasing multiple versions of things and people hearing demos because I like to hear that stuff from people who’s music I like. I understand how people have this thing about only putting it out when it’s ready, but I’m never ready to put out anything anyway! But there is a beauty in all that roughness, you know like when I go back and hear things that I thought were terrible and never wanted to release, but now they’re exciting for me to hear. If I liked an artist I would be happy to hear anything that they did, just for fun—why not right? I would understand the difference between that and their finished and polished album that they would release. I think most people are that smart and they understand that. So yea that was just a rough mix.
AWKMusic: Yea I figured there was a pretty easy explanation for it. I’ve found that most people that come to AndrewWKMusic.com are collectors so they understand that this is a B-Side or this is a weird promo thing. I’m sure some people who come are looking for something else but I think the people who stick around are collectors and are trying to find anything and everything–they’re nerds pretty much. [If you’ve read this far you’re a nerd]
Andrew W.K.: That’s the best and I’m very grateful to anybody who cares about something or likes something that much because not only is it wonderful and it allows me to continue doing this directly, but also because that’s the kind of person I can relate to the most. That’s been one of the best things, I don’t think every performer gets to experience the kinds of people that happen to like what I’m doing. They are usually people that I would just get along with very well anyway and have common interests with anyway. When you put out into the world the thing that you’re most excited about and interested in, and are able to express what you like in the world, in general through your work. Then the people you end up meeting, that like it, usually are people that are into all kinds of the same stuff or at least even the same head-space that you are in. Over the years that’s the thing that I’m probably most grateful about is the people I get to do this with are people I really enjoy.
I remember the whole Kurt Cobain crisis, where he hated his fans. How could you? I think that was the main problem that he had. He had set this whole thing up in his mind about who the kind of person he wanted to have like his music and then when people he didn’t want to hang out with started liking it, it just destroyed it for him. I try to take the exact opposite approach, that was the big impact and big influence that Kurt Cobain had on me. Which was to do the exact opposite thing when it came to this. I want to do something that allows me to connect with people that I would otherwise never think I would like. Then we find that we have this common ground or this common enthusiasm. That head-space allowed me to go out there and meet the best people in the world.
AWKMusic: Well I’m glad you took that approach because we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation right now.
Andrew W.K.: As you’re aware I’m extraordinarily grateful for what you have been doing with the site. You know, there have been other sites but you have stepped it up and for the long haul. It’s been tremendous for me and for every other fan, and even for the other people who ran the old fanpages. Where you can help pick up where they left off or use what they already contributed like AWKShare.com. It means so much to me and I always want to be able to give you information or help keep it going. If nothing else it’s a great service too. Because you have stuff that I don’t have and I can go to your site to find out about stuff that I didn’t know about, and that’s just awesome. You’ve really proven yourself over the long haul and I’m just very thankful.
AWKMusic: Wow, well thank you I appreciate that. Thank you for giving me a good reason to do it. I think it’s so cool of you to do this, a lot of musicians are untouchable so this has been really fun.
Andrew W.K.: And believe me I’m aware of that and actually I have respect for people who do that, because I understand. But that’s just not what this thing is. It’s just like the difference between people make horror movies and people who make Disney movies. Disney movies are a different vibe and this has a different vibe. It’s not about being separate, it’s not about making people feel distant, it’s all about partying, it’s all about getting together, that’s the whole thing. It all really works and that’s why this is the way it is.
End of Part 1
June 10, 2011
AWKMusic: This time I would like to just run through previous bands that you were in. You were in a band called “Ancient Art of Boar” right?
Andrew W.K.: Yes, and one of my good friends that was in the band “Lab Labotomy” was also in that group with me. He wasn’t always, but at the beginning he especially was. His name is Jaime Morales. Yea so it was “Ancient Art of Boar”, he came up with that name and then I changed it later when it became more of a solo project, to “AAB”. But also there was a time when Aaron Dilloway [owner of Hanson Records] was in the band as well. We recorded a cassette tape together called “She’s a Professional” [SIC, it’s actually called “She’s A Perfectionist”]. He released that, I think it was on Hanson Records. It was on cassette only. Pretty much after that I decided just to do it solo. That lasted for another six months to a year or so.
The first band in high school I was in was called “Lab Lobotomy”, or at least it was the first band that played shows and tried to do whatever we could do. But originally it was supposed to be called “Lobotomy”, but I spelled it wrong with an “a”, “La-botomy” instead of “Lo-botomy”. Of course I probably made t-shirts and a whole bunch of stuff before I noticed it was misspelled, which is just amazing. So I think the way we as a band kind of covered that, was deciding to embrace it and call it “Lab” and then spell it correctly after that. That’s how that band got named that ridiculous name. Lab Labotomy had Jaime Morales in it playing guitar and a man named Alex Goldman played trumpet, guitar, and sang as well. Also, a man named Allan Hazlett who is a philosophy professor now at NYU I think, was in the band. I got in touch with him not so long ago through email but I haven’t seen him… [looks him up online]. OK, this is saying he’s in the UK now, it’s gotta be the same guy. So now it’s saying [the internet] that he lives in England, I wonder if he’s teaching… he’s really fascinating. After High school I really lost touch with all of those friends to a small degree and then I was blown away when I heard that he decided to go and become a philosopher. He’s at the university of Edinburgh. That’s pretty amazing. So anyway that was Lab Lobotomy.
AWKMusic: So what can you tell me about “Artists Against Apartheid“?
Andrew W.K.: That was recorded in 1997 or so in my apartment. The first time I lived on my own was when I moved to Ypsilanti, Michigan. Which is about 10 or 15 minutes from Ann Arbor, they’re right next to each other. But it’s a very different vibe and it’s an amazing town. Most of my friends throughout these years we are talking about lived in Ypsilanti. They had already graduated high school and some of them were going to college at Eastern Michigan University which is in Ypsilanti. It’s a much smaller city and very, very, very strange and I just loved it. We all loved it, I still love it. I would still in some ways rather live there than Ann Arbor, just because it has such a strange tone to it. So it’s one of my favorite towns and I just can’t get over it, it’s a very bizarre place. There is a band called “Harry Pussy“, have you ever heard of them?
Andrew W.K.: You should look them up, it’s worth it. We were all blown away by them and they had been around for a few years at that point. There was a connection between them and my friends in Michigan through Tom Smith, the guy from To Live and Shave in L.A.. He recorded with them and was friends with them in Miami, where they are from. They came to play a show in Ypsilanti, it was a really big deal. I was so excited, I was just beside myself. The show was absolutely incredible, it was one of the greatest shows I’ve ever seen. It was an unbelievable performance and had great sound. Then the guys in the band turned out to be really nice. Of course I was shy and you’re always curious about the people you look up to if they’re going to be nice. They were very, very nice and so nice that they came over to my house with all my other friends. That was because I lived right down the street from where they played, I think we just walked over there probably. Then we recorded. Twig Harper–who is amazing was there, Aaron Dilloway was there, and a man named Andy Roach who is an old friend of all of ours (who is also from Michigan) was there. There could of been someone else but I think that might have been it. It’s very possible there could of been a few other people, but those are the ones I clearly remember.
We just started recording, I actually had a pretty good recording system setup in that house and was able to just start recording quickly. I had tons of stuff [recording equipment]. I haven’t listened to that recording in years and years and years, I have no idea what it sounds like. Adris Hoyos is the drummer and singer from Harry Pussy and she was definitely there playing stuff. She kept saying “give me something to ride on man, give me something to ride on”. I think we had a full drum set setup and all kinds of stuff, we definitely had a guitar and bass. So it was all recorded live and then released sometime later as “Artists Against Apartheid”.
AWKMusic: So obviously you didn’t have a band name picked out while you were doing it, since it was a spontaneous thing.
Andrew W.K.: Yea, we never even really told them we were going to record. It was just real spur of the moment. I think Aaron was like “dude we should just start recording”. So it was one of those instances where the way that apartment was, being set up very well because it was a huge room, you could just play and record easily. I remember the spirit that night, everyone was really excited and wound up after the show. Whatever that scene was, the setting was natural and it was an obvious thing to record and I’m so glad we did.
AWKMusic: So the album is called “Unit + Peace = Strength”?
Andrew W.K.: Yea, I guess that’s the album title, it was just more of a way to get that out as easily as possible. I don’t know if I even have a copy of that. I hope I have a copy of that someplace. Was in it in a hard-shell case or was it in a paper sleeve? I’m sure Aaron has it.
AWKMusic: I only have a digital copy of it, I think Knox [long time noise & Andrew W.K. fan] has it.
Andrew W.K.: Oh yea, yea, yea—-Knox is good at keeping that stuff. Aaron Dilloway definitely would know and probably remember even more about the recording than I do.
AWKMusic: OK, it says it’s a CD-R. I have it up on the site if you can’t find it for some reason.
Andrew W.K.: Yea, yea that makes sense. OK cool, great, thank you.
AWKMusic: Alright, so how about “The Beast People“, this one can be confusing to me.
Andrew W.K.: Yea there’s a whole bunch of recordings that band has done and I was included in some of them. There’s a lot of stuff. I was in it at a certain time. There were shows of them in Detroit, Michigan and there is footage of that somewhere… it may be on youtube. But there is a couple shows I was a part of. Some of the shows were very strange because it wasn’t really evident it was a show at times. There would be a house party going on and Aaron would say “let’s do the Beast People”, so there wouldn’t be a formal plan. But we wouldn’t really perform necessarily where the bands were playing. We might just be walking around the house doing stuff and performing all over the place.
It was a very confrontational group, they would grab people and it was meant to be very frightening. Aaron was a very aggressive performer, I learned a lot from him. He’s very confrontational and he would get right up in peoples faces and then encourage that. The same goes for Twig Harper who has also been in that band a lot more than I have. He’s also extremely advanced when it comes to that style of performing. Nate Young of course, who also would get aggressive but not quite as intense, but in a good way. Everyone sort of had a different character and attitude when they would be a beast person. I never even dressed up as a beast really, I would always be a human, but I would sometimes where a mask or something like that.
There’s one recording that I worked on really hard with Aaron. It was during that brief time when Aaron and Nate Young moved to New York and we all lived in my apartment. So that was in ’97 or ’98 or whenever I had first moved out. It was probably right around the time of the second year or at least year and a half of moving there. For those months they lived here, we did so much work, we did tons and tons of stuff. We recorded that Wolf Eyes 12″ that I did with them for that split on Bulb. I also recorded a Beast People song which I believe was released as a 10″, yea I think it came out on vinyl as a 10″. It’s probably on the Hanson site somewhere. It was very limited though, I don’t even know if I have a copy. I probably have one copy somewhere. But anyway, that was a recording we worked on really, really hard. I think it was called “The Beast People Opera” or that’s how Aaron would refer to it. I don’t know if that was actually the title, it might not even have a title. But it was a multi-track recording that we worked on very, very hard with keyboards and percussion and many, many overdubs. We recorded it all in one night. It was probably 90 degrees on a really hot and humid summer night in New York. You know how hot and humid it gets at night?! I was living in Brooklyn at this point where we were all living together. I don’t remember Nate being there, so he might have been out that night or something whenever we recorded this. It was just me and Aaron and I had built this vocal booth in my closet, that was actually extremely effective. The apartment building I lived in had paper-thin walls so that even me playing the keyboard with headphones on, the tapping on the keys would make people knock on my door and be like “ANDY WHAT IS ALL THIS TAPPING, WHY ARE YOU TAPPING?”. So somehow it was a miracle that we soundproofed this tiny little closet well enough. We had all these layers of blankets and foam and it had to be rubber and all this stuff. It really did work, you couldn’t hear it in the hallway at all and Aaron would just sing and scream his heart out for about five hours all night long. He was just dripping sweat. All he was wearing was his underwear–it was so hot. There was no air conditioning in this house and not only that, but he was in like a box, insulated with tons and tons of blankets with a hot light on inside. Which eventually he turned off, it was just too ridiculous. It was probably like 130 degrees in that room. He was completely delirious.
AWKMusic: [Laughter] That’s hilarious! So this is all different from “The Birthing”?
Andrew W.K.: Well, “The Birthing” was the name of one of the moments during that Beast People recording but he might have also used that title for another release. That might be the Birthing, it’s possible.
AWKMusic: But it could also be some type of “opera”?
Andrew W.K.: It had all these parts and all these different sections and movements. It did tell a bit of a story in a very abstract way, but it created this arc at different moments that made it very cinematic or a theatrical listening experience. Which is why we referred to it as that, but it might not of ever been released with that title. Neither of us had ever really recorded anything like that. Where we mapped out this whole drama where it starts with one thing, we set the scene and it rises up and then there’s a conflict and then there’s a resolution and then it moves on its way. It’s a slightly more conceptual Beast People recording.
AWKMusic: There’s a band called “Free Jumps” which is obviously a song of yours too.
Andrew W.K.: Yea, first it was the name of a song by a band I was in called “Kangoo”. The members of that band had a lot of people coming and going but those sessions I remember very well. People that were there (and I apologize to anyone I’m not remembering who was there) were Steve Kenny. He was the original drummer of the “Pterodactyls” and he was also in the band “Isis and Werewolves” and also played in a bunch of other bands. He is amazing, he’s one of my friends and favorite people in the whole world. He was definitely in “Kangoo” and playing on those recordings we made. I think that the song was called “Freejumps” at that point. But it may have broken off into a band, a lot of times we would come up with a band name that we would end up turning into a song title or the opposite where we would have a song title or an idea for a lyric that we then used for a band name. That’s because we liked it so much.
AWKMusic: So there wasn’t any actual releases under this band name?
Andrew W.K.: Not that I can remember, no. The thing that I remember the most was that it was definitely related to Kangoo and it was probably a song that we had.
AWKMusic: Were you ever in “Galen”?
Andrew W.K.: I was never in Galen, that was Aaron Dilloway’s band. It was probably his first really successful band. I mean, he had done a lot of bands before and projects that he had released. However, Galen was a real big step in terms of everything; quality, how often they played shows, they were a real performing band and made releases that looked really good. I was just so impressed by how good everything looked that they did. Not to mention the music, which was just incredible. Just the artwork and the packaging and the design, I was very impressed. I was like “who the hell is this guy? who are these people?”. Because it’s a smaller town and just when you see someone who can make a good flyer, it really catches your eye because most of the flyers look like shit. He lived in Brighton, Michigan which is quite a ways away. It’s still southeast Michigan, it’s like an hour or 45 minute drive, in an even smaller town than Ann Arbor. So it was so amazing that I didn’t already know this guy and that I hadn’t met him, it was all really exciting. Then he ended up moving to Ann Arbor and that’s when it all unfolded over the course of a couple days. I got to finally meet him and then go over to his house and become friends and then the next thing I realized, I was playing in bands with him. It was like meeting my idol, it was really exciting. So Galen had a huge impact on me and that was all Aaron Dilloway–of course other people were in the band. Also, there were other versions of the band, I played in a version called “Galen Via Hercules” and than that turned into a band called “The Hercules“. I played drums in that.
AWKMusic: So “Galen Via Hercules” wasn’t a split, it was its own band.
Andrew W.K.: Yes exactly, that was the title that they used for a short time. They had other names, like there was a time when I think the band was called “Galen Via Remember I Was Vapor”. Aaron is very advanced and brilliant man. The thinking he would put into band names or the idea of what a band name is. I mean, I was very confused by it too but those were the band names. They would split them off and then one would turn into the other. He kept changing his own band name all the time and constantly formed new ones and sometimes he would join them together and stuff like that.
AWKMusic: It’s really hard to find information on some of this stuff, especially for a person like me who is unfamiliar with this scene. I’m sure though Aaron and few others know about it and own it.
Andrew W.K.: Aaron and Knox are the best people to go to for all of this stuff. Aaron, on top of all his other talents and gifts is also an extremely, extremely gifted archivist. The nature of his personality makes it so that he keeps track of everything. He has doodles we did on napkins at restaurants from fifteen years ago and has saved, filed and organized them. Not to mention transferring every video of every show onto DVD, he is a real master-archivist. Again, his personality lends itself to doing that, I think he gets a lot of personal pleasure, even like a good feeling of security from it. I certainly have been grateful for it and benefited from all the stuff he’s been able to keep track of and remind me of. These are things I would have never have been able to remember, he’s influenced me hugely. I try my very best to save almost everything now, but I’m not nearly as good as him. That’s with all the stuff I have, I don’t really buy a lot of things. I have stuff from what I accumulate from doing what I do and what I make; and that’s enough stuff as it is. He’s definitely inspired me to be more responsible by trying to keep track of everything. The things that I have lost, like I had the entire “I Get Wet” album documented on video for the “Making of” stolen. There was a video camera and all the tapes were in that bag. So that was painful and it really means that much more to me that Aaron puts the time and energy into ensuring that kind of stuff doesn’t happen.
AWKMusic: I was curious about the “Blow Your Bone” and “The Wolf” album. If they’re different or is it just a switched album title?
- Andrew W.K.: It’s a switched title. I wanted to call it that and then I changed it to The Wolf. I remember the moment when I was in the airport and I had this flash going back to the “Wolf Slicer” magazine, which is a magazine I had made when I had first moved to New York. I guess it was three issues or something. The cover of that magazine is in real big letters; “WOLF”. I thought “you know what? that’s what I should call this album”. Because the sentiment to me on Blow Your Bone clashed with the emotional feeling that was coming through on that album. It was a very personal feeling and I thought “The Wolf” and that vibe, I just wanted to get that out there. I just wanted to acknowledge that word and Wolf Slicer and my whole fascination with wolves for all those years. So I called the album something that had a lot less power [than Blow Your Bone]. I thought the word was a lot more empty and I thought that would be better. Because the music was so strong and over the top and so dense, Blow Your Bone was too much. It’s too intense of a title and The Wolf had a power to it but was also plain and boring at the same time. I thought that would be better. I also really wanted it to clash with “I Get Wet” and be very different than that title, but Blow Your Bone was a lot more similar to the title of I Get Wet.
AWKMusic: So there wasn’t any different tracks, it was just a switched title and that’s all?
AndrewW.K.: Yea, I mean there were songs that weren’t on that album that were recorded for that album. But no, it was just a switched title.
AWKMusic: OK, so “62nd Sex Change” is a unique track that appears on a compilation. Can you tell me more about how it came about?
Andrew W.K.: Visonaire is a long running and hugely influential fashion publication and organization. It’s not really like a magazine, I mean it is but they do these very, very complex concept-based packages. They’ll do an issue called “Stars”, an issue called “Modern”, an issue called “Love” and then this was this issue called “Sound”. I was blown away that they asked me to be on this because there is a really, really, really pompous fashion world that’s very high-end. I have never really been embraced by that world because they thought my clothes were dirty, just ridiculous stuff. Even though I came from fashion and worked and studied in high-fashion, but I actually got out of it because I couldn’t stand how snobby the people were. It’s some of the most ridiculous people you can’t even believe, it’s just like the movies. So I couldn’t interact with the people because they were just being idiots. But anyway, there was still stuff I loved and Visionaire was always one of the coolest things that’s ever happened in fashion. It’s a really, really incredible magazine; just turning through it, looking through the pages, and the packaging. The whole thing is completely absurd and over the top and there’s nothing else like it. So when they invited me to do that, it was really exciting. It was because I had been in New York long enough at that point that the guy who curated it was into all kinds of stuff and knows all kinds of things; not just clothes. So anyway, I made that track and I think it had to be 60 seconds. I really wish I put that track on Mother of Mankind. I’ll have to put out some other things and have that as a bonus track. I didn’t want it to [only] be a 60 second song. I really like working with sound and sound FX, it goes back to the music I was making with Beast People or whatever. You don’t have to have a song, you’re just going to make something that when people put it on it’s going to take them to a different place.
AWKMusic: Thank you so much! This stuff is important to me and I like to know and find out how everything connects and then get it documented.
Andrew W.K.: I really appreciate it, it means so much to me too, it really, really does. It’s incredible to me because it helps not just me but all these other people that might have had questions about the same stuff. No one has ever asked about these things. Interviewers just don’t ever ask about this stuff and if they do it’s like one in a million. So this is the stuff that’s more interesting for me to talk about anyway because it’s my life, not just like “ok what’s the new album about, what’s this thing?”. Let’s talk about these amazing people and these crazy things that they’ve done. So it’s really fun to talk about all my friends like this, they’re the best! It makes me appreciate it more too. Also, when you do a great job at this like you do–I’m reading this book right now about KISS called “Behind The Mask”. It’s essentially written by a guy who is doing exactly what you’re doing. He took his enthusiasm and interest in KISS to a point where he was able to interview them and work with them and make this amazing book. It’s one of the best and most detailed and documented books about any musical thing or anything for that matter. Like if you’re a fan of something this book is amazing, and that’s exactly what we’re doing here. Even if there’s just a handful of people who care about it, just getting it down is important. Who knows in ten or twenty years how valuable it will have been to have recorded and organized all of this. So I’m extremely grateful for you doing it, really. Thank you so much!
End of Part 2
September 6, 2011
Andrew W.K.: What would you like to talk about this time? I’m always curious.
AWKMusic: I would like to get into your past discography again… if that’s alright?
Andrew W.K.: Sure, the site is looking really amazing by the way, it always does. I just can’t thank you enough for how good it is.
AWKMusic: Thanks! I’ve never been able to confirm if there was a single released in Japan for “Long Live The Party”, do you know if there is any substance to that?
Andrew W.K.: I don’t know if it came out as a separate release. I mean digitally it may have, although digital at that point in 2003… hmm. I mean, there was a song I did called “Long Live The Zippy” is that what you’re talking about? It was a special version of Long Live The Party that I believe was shortened slightly from the album version where I said “I want to be a zippy, I want to be a zippy” and other lyrics were changed to pay tribute to the radio station “Zip FM”. It’s just a long standing and popular station that’s also been very supportive of us in Japan. I think they did release it on an annual compilation CD they put out every year. It has different artists with songs and with funny messages and different things. So that did happen, maybe that’s what people have been confused about. There is a video for it we filmed and I vaguely remember seeing it or seeing clips from it at some point.
AWKMusic: People have thought in addition to that there was a single, but it sounds like that’s not the case. I’m also aware that on The Wolf’s U.S. version of Long Live That Party is slightly shorter.
Andrew W.K.: Yea, on that song [LLTP] it’s the way it starts. On the Japanese version there’s a longer intro. For some reason we had that ability, I don’t remember why it was such a subtle change though. I actually liked it both ways, I guess I couldn’t decide whether I liked it slightly longer at the beginning or slightly shorter. Or someone was maybe giving me their advice or their opinion that shorter was better. So anyway, I did the U.S. version one way and was also satisfied that I could do the Japanese version and do the longer way. I think we did release it as a single but it never came out as a separate packaged release, does that make sense?
AWKMusic: Right, so it was just for the radio stations or something.
Andrew W.K.: Yea and we filmed a video for it where we used live footage. We just re-edited live footage that we also used from Furnace Fest [2003 concert] and we also used the “Your Rules” video from the US. It was just that in Japan they wanted to release a party song first instead of Never Let Down as the first single. So they choose that song and we sent it to them. But yea we never released it as a packaged release.
AWKMusic: OK great! That’s been out there for years so it’s great to know what happened.
Andrew W.K.: Yea unless it’s out there somewhere and someone can find it, but I’m not aware of it.
AWKMusic: Actually speaking about live stuff, there’s a guy named Dave “Big Shirt” Nichols.
Andrew W.K.: Yea! He was our sound-man from the very beginning, from when we first started up until… boy I’m not sure what was the last show he did with us. Maybe in 2004 or 2005. You know, our whole band and crew was largely assembled by Donald Tardy [1st drummer in A.W.K.] who had worked with Big Shirt in Obituary. Big Shirt went on to work with Slipknot and actually worked with them for several years and he’s just amazing. He was a lot of fun, he was an Englishman and actually our first tour we ever did was in England. So it was very helpful to have an Englishman and have a very big and strong guy. He’s huge, that’s why they call him “Big Shirt” [laughter]. That’s because there’s some kind of tradition in England, like here [U.S.] we might call someone “tiny” if there really big or whatever. So there, this nickname that you do if you’re big, I guess, you call the person a “big shirt”; and that becomes their nickname.
Big Shirt told a story about how during his years of being big and being called “Big Shirt”. One day on tour he met a guy who came up and said “Hey, I heard your name is Big Shirt?” and he was like “Yea, well it’s my nickname”. And then the guys said “Well I got an even bigger shirt and I’m called Big Shirt too and I think I’m the Big Shirt”. The guy was bigger than him, so then that guy became “Bigger Shirt” [laughter]. But yea he’s an amazing guy, I miss him a lot. He also tour managed us very briefly for a moment. He was with us for years and years on that first five year stretch. We were on the road constantly and he was there for more than majority of it.
AWKMusic: I came across a guy who made a documentary on you guys. I guess he joined your crew and filmed for you guys for a little bit.
Andrew W.K.: Is it the Brandons?
AWKMusic: Yea! So I contacted him a while ago and we had some correspondence. But he mentioned that Big Shirt had a lot of the audio from the soundboards from the first five years.
Andrew W.K.: Yea he did, he recorded tons of stuff. In fact in Japan we also released some live tracks on The Wolf. The Japanese version of The Wolf had two bonus tracks that were live versions of “Party Hard” and “She is Beautiful”. Those are board mixes from his recordings on tour, they sound amazing. I think we mixed them though, like he worked on them to get them to sound as good as they do. Yea he does have a ton of other stuff and man, those recordings are so good that we could release that as a live album. They’re even better than some of the sound from the Who Knows? footage. I should try to reach out to him right now, thanks for reminding me about that.
AWKMusic: So did he hand over all that audio to you guys or does he still have it?
Andrew W.K.: I don’t know if he officially did or not, I don’t remember where I would have put it. Because that was before I even had a house, being on tour and everything. It’s very possible… yea! I’m 99% positive that he did give me tons of stuff and it’s probably all in a big plastic box in Michigan or someplace like that. I just accumulated so much stuff on the road and I didn’t keep it as organized as I would have liked. Although I will say I’ve done a pretty good job archiving a large amount of stuff over the years. Although it hasn’t been as detailed as I would have liked. It’s something I learn about all the time. If I was really going to do it right I would have someone filming everything, someone keeping track of everything they film, someone recording everything, someone taking pictures and putting everything in folders. But that’s a huge amount of work. I’ve been trying to do it myself and from time to time I’ve hired people to help with it. That’s what’s so great about your site is that you’re doing it by finding what other people might have already done or organizing it and centralizing it, that’s why your help has been so valuable.
AWKMusic: Right, and I’ve found that it’s pretty much an impossible task because it seems like you’re constantly doing stuff, so it’s really hard to keep up. You do interviews all the time and so it’s hard to say “OK, he was there this day and this day, doing this thing”. It would be very difficult to archive every single thing.
Andrew W.K.: I know, maybe I should set a goal though while we do this next album to take advantage of all the opportunities we’ll have and organize someone who is just dedicated to that. Just to help archive what we’re up to. I also wish I would have kept a journal or a diary even of the most basic day-to-day entries of what I’ve been doing. But the good thing now is that I have Google Calendar, so with that I’m scheduling everything and that automatically keeps a record of what I’ve done. I could go back now for at least a couple of years and see what we’ve done. It’s all things I’m learning about.
Hey! Here’s something that would be cool if you want to help me track down this. The first interview I ever did was in a magazine called “Oui”. I think it’s still around, it’s a pretty classic adult magazine like Hustler or something. But my first friend that I met in New York, worked there and I did an interview with him. I saved that interview along with all my other first press and first photos in this portfolio. That of course went missing during tour somehow, I have no idea. It was a huge thing too so it’s very odd to go missing. It was like this big 2×3 foot folder that had all my press laid out. But that article I’ve been trying to find a copy of because it has my first interview I did as “Andrew W.K.”. in it. It would of been from around 1999 or something like that, but it would be cool if we could track it down.
AWKMusic: Yeah I have read some really early interviews you did.
Andrew W.K.: The two other earliest ones are “Forced Exposure” magazine which is also from around that time, like 1999 or 2000. Then there’s a small, almost all text, kind of literary magazine-book of this interview I did. That one was really harsh and angry sounding. Someone had found it before, this woman named Dot. You know who might know about that is Holly from dontstopthenoise.com, she may have tracked that down. It’s something like “Drawing… something”. Yea it’s like an artsy kind of magazine, I’ll keep looking for it.
AWKMusic: I’m curious about the history of the Room To Breathe and You Are What You Eat releases and if there are any plans in the future to re-release them?
Andrew W.K.: Yea, I have spoken to Knox Mitchell about re-releasing several of the earlier Andrew W.K. items, which includes You Are What You Eat. I believe he has that and whatever is on the other side [side B]. I think he has a couple of those rare early tapes he found somehow. There’s also that album by AAB called “Bright Dole”. It’s not “Andrew W.K.” or “Andrew Wilkes-Krier” it’s another thing from those earlier days and he recently wrote to me about re-releasing that; I said “yea”. Actually, Fred Thomas who originally released that still has the master. So we’ve been talking about that and it got held up a little bit but it’s definitely a possibility.
During that time I was living on my own for the very first time. I had moved out of my parents house in Ann Arbour and moved to Ypsilanti where I was living in an apartment. I believe I’ve told you about that before, where we recorded Artist Against Apartheid. It was when I really, really got into recording in earnest. I was finding out how to record better and in higher quality, or at least learning more about the techniques. I was also going into recording studios with bands I was playing with or on my own, which I had never really done before. So it was a really productive time and also a very exciting time just to be independent and live in my own house.
One night I recorded You Are What You Eat, I was in the mindset that I wanted to put out a lot of stuff because I was recording a lot of stuff. I liked the idea at that point of being prolific. I’m not exactly sure what I was thinking, but there was definitely some kind of creative surge to want to put out a bunch of stuff. Unfortunately I didn’t end up putting out a lot of it because either they were sort of harebrained ideas or they were just ideas on there way to growing into something better. But a few things I did actually finish, Aaron Dilloway was kind enough to release on cassette, about ten copies or something. One of those was You Are What You Eat. That music, I just had this idea in mind for this sound, this distinct feeling of what this kind of music would sound like. It was supposed to kinda sound like a fever [SIC], just sort of discombobulating and disorienting. You don’t really know what part of the song you’re in exactly, or what is being said, or what’s going to happen next. It was the kind of music I would imagine if you were on another planet and who had never heard music before. Maybe what they would think of music in general, it’s hard to explain. It was high-context in that way. The way it ended up sounding… have you heard it?
AWKMusic: No I haven’t.
Andrew W.K.: You should ask Knox, you have my permission to put it out if he cares to share it. I know I have a copy of it somewhere around here as well, everything needs to be organized [talking to himself], it’s not that bad. I have so much stuff, it’s just not organized. But the music was [starts singing] “You Are As You Go! Go! [makes sound effect]“. There would be crashing and then sort of some rhythm and then “You Are As You Gooooo!”. It was as disorienting as I could make it, that is the best way to describe it. It was also quite short, I think there was maybe two or three songs on the tape. So each side of the tape was probably ten or fifteen minutes long.
AWKMusic: Wow, it sounds amazing!
Andrew W.K.: Well, I don’t know if it was really amazing but it’s amazing to me that it happened at all and that it’s still around in some form at all.
AWKMusic: So it’s not “Party Rock”, it’s more of an extension of your “Noise” roots.
Andrew W.K.: Well it sounded like a band playing but it wasn’t really harsh like [makes static noise], or anything like that. All those things at that time, I had spent so much time playing piano and regular music, I was just interested in anything that didn’t sound like sitting down at a piano. So yea that was definitely an extension of that same motivation. Just trying to avoid hearing the same things I had already heard at that point. I wanted to make something new or hear something that sounded new.
AWKMusic: You did a jingle for a Kit Kat commercial. Also there are some BMI tracks listed under your name. So my question is, are there other “jingles” that you’ve done?
Andrew W.K.: No, that one came out specifically for that. We did have other songs used in ads from the versions on my albums. However, the first ad we ever did was an Expedia ad. They used a really early version of “It’s Time To Party” that came out on “We Want Fun” — the supposed album. They used that version instead of the version that came out on I Get Wet because I Get Wet wasn’t even done or had come out yet.
Other than that, we had a lot of other commercials and movies that just used the regular I Get Wet or The Wolf recordings. But Kit Kat, they had been looking and wanting to use Party Hard. But one of the creative directors at the advertising company really liked the idea of making a new song. So he asked me rather than just using Party Hard, if I would be willing to write a new song just for the ad that he could have input into; but was still the same style. That to me was really, really exciting because I loved Kit Kats for a long time, I think it’s my mom’s favorite candy bar. So it was kind of a personal connection because I was already a fan. Also just getting to write music for a candy commercial in general was really exciting. These are things that I have always dreamed of being able to do. I did “Andrew W.K.” so I could get to make a Kit Kat ad. It was just one of the great things that happened as a life experience. Not to mention making money from it, I would have done that for free! That’s what it’s all about to me and the ads turned out so great. They are really high production, they are really beautifully shot, they’re the really classic Kit-Kat vibe, but really funny. Then Dee Snyder, I don’t know if most people know this, is the voice-over guy who does the announcement like [changes voice] “break into a chewy, crunchy, crisp-ity, Kit-Kat bar” – that’s Dee Snyder! When he did that, I just thought “well, that just confirms that dreams really do come true”. I got to meet him several times and I mentioned that to him.
EDITORS NOTE: There are at least two other versions of this video, if you have a copy of it please upload it here. Find the high quality MP3 version of the song here. Andrew once played this song live at the Zepp Tokyo concert.
I’ve produced music that’s been used commercially for various things where they requested certain mixes or certain kinds of songs for certain things. The only other jingle similar to that, I did some stuff for VH1. I did a show, an episode where they approached me about doing the music and again it was such a fun thing. I learn so much from these projects, that’s why I do them. It makes better at recording, it makes me better at figuring out music and they’re just really fun. These are the things I dreamed of doing before I ever really got into the music business. I was just always fascinated by commercial music and so I did the music for a TV special episode called “40 Hottest Hotties of the 90′s” on VH1. It required like 45 different pieces of music, or 45 recordings, or 45 short songs ranging from five seconds to fifteen seconds. There’s the main theme [sings] “40 Hottest Hotties of the 90′s”. Then there was a song recorded for every single person they talk about, I think they used it. That was a huge amount of work, but again the most valuable kind of experience. At least for me in terms of recording it takes me to the highest level and I guess through all those sound effects like the wipes and sparkles and bings and just every kind of thing when you watch TV. Because it’s just non-stop sound effects [makes a bunch of sound effects].
EDITORS NOTE: What the… ? Has anybody even heard about this before?! You can definitely hear Andrew’s influence and even vocals throughout the entire show. Checkout parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 of the show. In another post I’ll have to cut all of these together.
That’s what’s so great about Destroy Build Destroy too, the sound effects and the sound design. Like when the screen wipes from one shot to another shot it goes like [more sound effects]. It’s just like the radio [changes voice] “You tuned into [FX] 99-5 [FX]” and all that stuff. Obviously I’ve included as much as possible into my music but it’s not as upfront as it is on TV or in movies. That’s why I love commercial recordings so much, I’ve always been really into sound FX and sound design and the way ad sounds. I mean, how did they get that thing to sound like that? Those things have to sound as exciting or particular as possible, you’re using sound in those situations to make an impression on people that goes beyond entertainment. You’re trying to make them feel a certain way to accomplish a certain goal or sell them a certain product or make them feel a certain way about a certain person or place or whatever. I’ve always loved the way that sound can be that powerful and you can manipulate it and manipulate the listener with how you present it. It can be done in pop music or recorded music of any kind.
That’s why I like TV so much, it fuses these creative tools and art with commercialism. It’s just really appealing to me, it’s kind of like a carnival. A carnival is a better example then an amusement park because it’s trying to lure you in through excitement and sound and also by the way things look and how things sparkle and the lights and the paintings. Just like at a haunted house or fun house at a carnival, there’s all these crazy paintings on the front of it and all this stuff and it looks really huge and maybe it even goes three stories up and when you go inside you realize, oh that was all to lure me in. It’s not even that big in here, there’s not much stuff, some of the displays in the haunted house aren’t even that scary but that’s the whole thing, that’s the trick. So I love that old dialogue that happens. It’s entertainment but it’s entertainment where you’re trying to snare the person and excite them, maybe in a way they don’t even realize you’re doing. It’s sort of that “step right up, step right up” approach to presentation. You can go and see all kinds of different shows or entertainment but there is this certain brand of entertainment that’s reaching out to you like that. That’s the stuff I’m usually attracted to, the stuff that’s really aggressive I guess. Meaning, it’s not some dude singing by himself playing guitar in his bedroom (although there’s nothing wrong with that, I’ve done that plenty of times myself). But my music or entertainment is not made for that audience, it’s not made by the person who’s making it just for their own sake or for their own fun of it, it’s made to try to get into someone’s head. It’s trying to get to that person in a very aggressive way and get their attention and to jar them or make some kind of impact.
AWKMusic: Right! Well I don’t know how you do it but you’re a master at manipulating excitement through music. A lot of your releases are different sounding yet each one somehow has this same vibe of excitement whether it’s Party Til You Puke’s dance beat/techno-y sound or the Wolf’s triumphant sound.
Andrew W.K.: Thank you, they all have different motives which are intentional. I guess I’m always trying to make them sound the best way I can. I have different ideas of what that is or how I get there. It also doesn’t seem entirely necessary re-create the exact sound. That’s what I’ve always liked when I’ve liked an artist, it’s like “ok what’s this album going to sound like?”. That was always one of the most exciting parts of discovering some group or band or musician or whatever. It was “wow ok I just found out about this person and they have four albums out already, I’m going to get all of them”. Then it’s “wow what’s this one going to be like and what happened at this point and what’s the artwork in this one?”. I liked it when there was always consistency but there also was this thing where it was as if they were in a different room or they used a different amp or something. You can tell it’s the same person it’s that same sound, just slightly shifted in some way which gives it color.
AWKMusic: I read a long, long time ago about “The Mechanical Eyes” can you give me some background behind that?
Andrew W.K.: That was the first recording I ever did with the intent of playing it for other people and had copies of it at the time to sell. That was in 6th grade… I’m trying to think if that was before or after I had a four-track or after. That had to have been way before… so I just had a boom box but I noticed it did have stereo recording which was pretty remarkable. I remember when I figured out that when I spoke into one side of the speaker where the mic was the sound would be in that ear and then if I spoke into the other side of the speaker where the other mic was then the sound goes to that ear. I just couldn’t believe that because I heard that on certain recordings and thought it was the most insane and amazing thing to have a voice behind me or in front of me or in the middle and now it’s over here. It was a very early process learning about stereo sound. I had a keyboard that had a broken drum machine which had a lot of good sounds. I used it for years and years including when I moved to New York and first started doing Andrew W.K. that’s the same keyboard I had since I was 11 or 12 years old and used it all the way through.
I don’t remember how many songs are on there, I would do anything to have a copy of it, that is one that I do not have. It’s hopeful that there is some copy that’s in Michigan at my parents house or a few old school-friends from that era. I’ve heard through the grapevine, they many still have a copy of it. So hopefully one will turn up but I don’t remember much about how that stuff sounded. That song “Mr. Surprise” would be very similar to that, it’s from that same era. I believe it was recorded the same way. That song might even be from that tape of Mechanical Eyes. I made a cardboard sleeve of some type that may have even folded out a little bit from the cassette box. My mom took me to Kinko’s when they had the first versions of color copiers, they were terrible. It was unbelievable how bad these color copiers were back then. But I was always extremely excited just about getting color copies made at all. But it looked so bad [laughs], I wonder if it was even worth getting colored copies?! It was very bizarre to even bother offering people their service of color copying and have it look that way, but you have to start somewhere. They were all messed up looking. Anyway, we made about ten copies and I tried to sell them at school. I probably just gave most of them away to my friends but I know some people bought them and I think they liked them. Yea, you know what actually, nobody said anything bad about it which was pretty amazing. I never really thought about that. People were just very encouraging. All the kids in my school, many of which I wasn’t particularly friends with or anything. I had friends at that point for sure but I wasn’t like a popular kid so much. Thinking back on that, it was definitely really nice. I do appreciate that so much that the kids were very encouraging and very positive and saying “oh yea this is awesome, it sounds so good”. You know, it was similar to being a really good athlete in your class or maybe being really good at drawing or maybe really good at doing magic tricks or something. There were kids who would have those skills, but I was the kind of kid who was showing that he was making these recordings. There was a lot of kids who played instruments and played piano very well, there was actually another couple kids who played specifically at my school that were very, very good piano players that were as good or better than me. But it was more that they were encouraging me to be the recording guy. Which was nice!
AWKMusic: Yea I’m sure when you’re that young and you’re putting out recordings, you’re kinda like “the cool kid”.
Andrew W.K.: Yea it was a very small school and they were supportive of me doing anything, which was nice. It was a great, great school and had a huge impact on me. It was called “Green Hills”.
AWKMusic: So I’m a fan of classical music and sometimes I feel like I can sense the classical influence even if it’s not piano, how do you put that into this “Party” music?
Andrew W.K.: Genre names are useful when you’re trying to easily describe something to someone. So if I hear the word classical I think it’s going to be an orchestra with maybe violins and french horns and things like that. Just like if I hear the word Jazz I’m going to think about saxophones and a lot of ride cymbal and an upright bass. But after a certain point I also find those kinds of head-spaces to be a bit distracting and also unnecessary when ultimately at the end of the day we just want to focus on the music, just the music. At least for me, I don’t want to focus on what it means or what it’s about or what they’re trying to say or who made it really; that’s all just icing on the cake. But when it gets down to it I also want to be able to appreciate any instruments that could be playing this [his] music, meaning you could have jazz instruments playing rock songs you could have rock instruments playing classical songs, you could have classical musicians playing pop songs, you know whatever! It should still hold up.
That comes down to rhythm and melody so I just really like melody and if you listen to classical music there’s incredible melody. This music could be rock songs, or jazz songs, or techno songs, or any other style of music. Techno is a great genre to do classical instrumentation because it’s so dramatic, it’s so clear and hard hitting. It’s a lot of huge sounds that sounds like an orchestra with massive keyboards that sounds like string sections. So I just really like melody and the intensity of the feeling that comes from melodies and the certain way you feel without needing lyrics, without needing to know what the song is about or anything. It’s not even about an idea, at least for me. It doesn’t make me think about “oh this is a happy feeling or this is sadness” it’s just feeling. I mean, it feels good so I guess it’s happy in that way but it’s just raw feelings and sensation and that’s all I take away from anything, classical music or otherwise. It’s just like “ok here’s a moment in a song, it could be a classical song, it could be whatever. This makes me feel really good here, what’s going on here? What is it about this melody that does it? Oh I see, it’s these notes, at these intervals with this kind of timing, with this and this approach.” It’s about trying to learn all of it and knowing what it does. Like knowing that this creates thatexciting feeling as well and then I just incorporate all of that into my music. I don’t really want it to be and I don’t really think it sounds like classical music, I hope it doesn’t. I mean even though I use a lot of orchestra sounds I just want it to sound and have that feeling. I use to not like to call it “rap” music or anything at all because what I wanted was for people to not be distracted by anything and just be able to feel that physical sensation, that energy. But now I don’t care because “rock music” is an easy way to describe its instrumentation that people understand. With guitar and loud drums and loud singing and everything is really intense and once they understand that, than I just hope they able to focus again on that sensation.
AWKMusic: Oh ok, so it sounds like you’re more focused on the melody and maybe that is what I was thinking in terms of.
Andrew W.K.: Yea! There’s no approach of “OK how can I make this sound like a classical song?”. I don’t even really consider myself classically trained, I was just very traditionally trained and one could have learned what I learned on any instrument. It was just a very basic understandings of music. It was just like if you have very traditional training on how to draw the human body and then you go on to do an abstract sculpture or something, but still that training allows you to incorporate aspects of that. It helps you get to the feeling you’re trying to get to by whatever means necessary. That just happens to be one of the things that I’ve learned and can draw from, traditional music playing. But there’s a lot of things that they didn’t teach us, like all kinds of things about sound, about performance and about energy. They really just taught us about melody. Even though it might not sound like there is a lot of melody in some of my music to some listeners, that’s good too because they might be distracted by it. But it’s all in there, they don’t even need to hear it, I try to blend it all together so it’s not real clear what’s going on.
AWKMusic: Thanks again Andrew I appreciate it. I’m looking forward to next time.
Andrew W.K.: Excellent, thank you… always!
End of Part 3
September 14, 2011
AWKMusic: Thanks for doing this again, I appreciate it. I have some more questions for ya!
Andrew W.K.: Ok let’s do it.
AWKMusic: I’ve hunted down some backing tracks and some karaoke tracks, currently I have Ready To Die as a backing track and then three karaoke tracks; Party Hard, We Want Fun and I Love NYC. I’m assuming that companies have to contact you to use these?
Andrew W.K.: No not usually, they usually make their own version of it which they don’t have to get permission to do. When you say backing track I’m not sure what that would be for. There are definitely quite a few karaoke versions of songs that karaoke companies have created. I even saw one here in New York the other day for “Not Going To Bed”. Yea, even Long Live the Party, Not Going To Bed, Ready To Die, We Want Fun, Party Hard, and maybe even Never Let Down. In Japan there is a lot more.
AWKMusic: Oh OK. The backing track is for Ready To Die but it supposedly came from a guitar book and it’s the actual song, it’s not a karaoke track. It has most everything removed, except the drums, bass and keyboard.
Andrew W.K.: Huh! I don’t know what that would be.
AWKMusic: OK, so there’s definitely more tracks from companies out there making karaoke versions of your songs?
Andrew W.K.: Yes, it’s a huge business with karaoke.
AWKMusic: So this is kind of an obscure question, I know. Have there been efforts of yours regarding recordings or projects that have been published but for one reason or another went under the radar? Or that you wished they had got more exposure?
Andrew W.K.: Umm, just so I understand the question. Was there anything I worked on that didn’t get put out?
AWKMusic: What I’m really getting at is, are there other rare things out there that a collector might not know about but you think that they should?
Andrew W.K.: Oh yea probably, I don’t really know where to begin with that. There was a bootleg recording that came out early on like in 2002 or so. I didn’t make it but we found it on tour, it’s called “The Zen of Positive Partying”. Do you know about that?
AWKMusic: Ok yea.
Andrew W.K.: OK so you do know about that. Do you have that already?
AWKMusic: I don’t have it but I know about it and I know someone that does have it.
Andrew W.K.: Ok yea there’s that. Hmmm… I can’t think of anything that you don’t know about, let’s put it that way. That was the only one that maybe I haven’t seen directly mentioned on your site. It’s a little bit hard to go through a list of what you may or may not know about. But I can’t think of anything too obvious at the moment. It’s a bit of a tricky question.
AWKMusic: Yea sorry.
Andrew W.K.: No, no, no, I will always keep thinking though, if I think of something that maybe nobody knows about or you don’t know about I will try to tell you about it. I’m just not sure what you do or don’t know about.
AWKMusic: There’s a lot of bands that I would like to confirm if you were at least in them. And then maybe we can fill in some of the details about some of the actual releases behind them. So in the past we’ve already covered Ancient Art of Boar, Artists Against Apartheid, The Beast People, Free Jumps, The Hercules, Isis and Werewolves, and Kangoo. But we haven’t talked about Kathode though.
Andrew W.K.: OK so that was a band I played drums in that originally started out being called “Abhorrence”, you know like “hatred”. Actually, since then there’s been a band called “Abhorror” that I’ve seen around. But we changed the name, I’m not exactly sure why but we changed it from Abhorrence to “Kathode”, after somewhat of a debate. Originally the band had started out with Aaron Dilloway who had met this guy named Eric Prozac. He had been in Detroit and was a guitar player and singer and was really into metal, specifically black metal and death metal and grind core. Aaron was really excited because this guy played well and was really enthusiastic and was from a totally different scene than the people we had normally met or hung out with. Aaron invited me to be part of the band, I believe playing drums from the very beginning. Aaron had been playing in a black metal band that he had made called “Nazgul”, like from Lord of The Rings. I think that kind of morphed into Abhorrence and when I joined on the drums I took it very seriously and was very excited about this and wanted to make this the band that I worked the hardest on. I had been in several other bands at that point and played with different friends and even made some recordings. But I had realized there was a more intense way you could operate a band, where you would play more shows and maybe even travel outside of your town. Or you could release recordings that a lot of people would get a hold of that weren’t so limited or obscure or hard to find. I really liked the idea of this band being the band that we would work really hard on. I think it was a bit weird because Aaron who had sort of came up with the band to begin with lost interest in it because I think he thought it wasn’t fun anymore. So he ended up leaving and it wasn’t on bad terms or anything, but he ended up leaving after maybe a few weeks.
We were practicing at my parents house and then we sort of moved the band to Detriot to Eric Prozac’s house. Then the band added a couple of singers, one of the singers was a man named Jeff Rice who sang in a really incredible band called “Ottawa”. He was also in another band called “.Nema”, both were really influential and respected in this scene. I don’t know how you would describe this scene, like crust-grind-core, or crust-punk, or something. He was an amazing singer and a really fun guy to hang out with. And then another friend of ours named Sean Gates, he played in a band called “The Jacks” from the Ann Arbor—Ypsilanti area. I had become friends with him bit by bit over the years and was really excited to be in a band with him. He is an incredible drummer, he’s one of the most amazing drummers I have ever seen still to this day! But in this band he was singing. So we had two vocalists actually and it was a very, very fun group that we worked pretty hard on for about a year straight. I didn’t really know much about how to make a band work or how to make it successful. We just did all that we could and recorded what we considered a demo, I think six songs on a cassette. We recorded at a studio and had a few other tracks that appeared on 7-inches or compilations, vinyl compilations mainly. It was actually a big portion of that time of my life. We did play quite a few shows, it was all very intense because it was in downtown Detroit where we spent most of our time. Which always has an exciting edge to it. Other than that the bass player’s name was Mike who’s an excellent guy. Mike and Eric both lived at the same house on Calumet Street in Detroit, I would drive there every time we were practicing. He let me practice there at least two or three times a week if not more. At that point I had stopped going to school because I had enough credits so I could finish a year early. This is while I was living in Ypsilanti around the same time as Artist Against Apartheid.
AWKMusic: There could be more but I have three different releases under them; a split with Void, We Are Anti-Nazi Anti-National War, and Keep Your Dogma Out of Your De-Kathoder.
Andrew W.K.: Yes and then there’s a song that also appeared on some of those releases already but we also put it on a “Food Not Bombs” compilation LP. I think it was “Fools Die” which we had already released but as a slightly different version. We did a version that had keyboards in it.
AWKMusic: So did you have any releases under “Abhorrence”?
Andrew W.K.: We made T-Shirts actually, that was all we ever did for that version of the band. We had a logo, I’m trying to remember if I drew it or if Eric drew it or if we drew it together. But we did make T-Shirts and you can see that shirt design on the back cover of the Pterodactyls CD, I think Pete is wearing it. I don’t even remember where we printed them or how, I’m trying to remember who printed that. I might have even printed it, I don’t really remember. The funny thing is that we never made Kathode shirts but we had shirts for Abhorrence, which only existed for a couple of weeks with that name.
AWKMusic: What can you tell me about the Malt Lickers?
Andrew W.K.: I don’t know if anything was ever recorded or released by that name. That was something I believe that I was doing with Jeff Rice and the singer of Kathode and maybe another guy named Jaime Subuda. He might have been involved in that, but nothing much came of it. It was going to be more punk songs, like more melodic sing-a-long songs. It was similar to the Portly Boys, but we did have a recording of that [Portly Boys]. I don’t know where that is though, but I think I met someone who has it. It was just [singing] “Portly Boys Bounce! Portly Boys Bounce! Portly Boys Bounce! Bounce! Bounce! Bounce!”. It was just chants [sings a bunch].
AWKMusic: So Jeff Rice and Jaime were in the same band?
Andrew W.K.: Jamie Subuda was an old friend of Jeff Rice and he didn’t play in bands until a little later. He was playing bass and then Jeff started playing drums and they went on to both be in other bands over different times. I just remember we were all hanging out during that era, so I should give them credit to some degree.
AWKMusic: I know that you were in Mr. Velocity Hopkins but if you can just fill us all in with that band…
Andrew W.K.: Well I had met Pete Larson, as I think I’ve described, through the time that he was going to the University of Michigan. And basically through my dad. I had been aware of Pete because of the band “Couch”. Which was really my favorite band from the minute I discovered them or was introduced to them by my other high school friend—Jaime Morales. He was really the one who introduced me to all kinds of crazy music during my first year of high school. He was a year older than me and we played in a Jazz band together. After school we would go to the record store; “Schoolkids Records”. They used to own three stores right next to each other, just a huge record store. There was one part of the store called “The Annex” where Jim Magas worked and he was the other member of Couch. So it was really exciting to go to this record store where the singer of Couch worked. That’s when I first became friends with Jim and then through him I sort of became familiar with Pete Larson. But I was too afraid to really ever talk to Pete whenever I would see him on the street or around the town. It wasn’t until many months later, maybe even a couple of years later that I found out he was aware of my dad somehow. Or my dad was coming into the grocery store where Pete worked and somehow they had talked and realized that my dad and his son [Andrew] was friends with Jim—or something like that. So finally I went to the grocery store with my dad and saw Pete at the checkout doing the register. He was very nice but it was also a little awkward though with my dad there, he was making weird jokes. That was the first time I was ever able to talk to him and he was very nice and it wasn’t too long after that he invited me to start playing with him in different capacities. That was all around the same time I joined the Pterodactyls. He had his solo project “Mr. Velocity Hopkins” which I played on one recording. Aaron Dilloway also played on the album as a drummer, so there were two drummers on the recordings.
AWKMusic: For the Mr. Velocity Hopkins S/T album I have the tracks “Sad Wings of Destiny”, “Get Out”, and “Two Heads, One Door” you played drums on.
Andrew W.K.: Ok cool, yea maybe. It’s not clear which songs I played on. I mean, I can tell usually if I hear them, but there’s a lot of songs where it’s not really clear who’s playing and I don’t know if it’s formally labeled.
AWKMusic: Awesome, those are fun CDs to listen to every once in awhile. OK, so actually I just barely got these tracks and I have no idea what they’re about but they’re labeled as “Sam The Butcher”.
Andrew W.K.: Oh OK, wow you have those songs?
AWKMusic: I have three tracks and one of them definitely sounds like you singing but the other two tracks don’t really sound like the same band so I don’t know exactly what it is.
Andrew W.K.: Wow yea, I would probably have to hear them. But yes that was basically the first band I was ever in, or the first time I had ever played or recorded music with someone for fun that wasn’t piano lessons or by myself. It was with a man named Toby Summerfield and he has gone on to be very successful and played with all kinds of people both as a guitar player and a bass player. He went to my high school as well, to Community High School. He was sort of my first best friend even, we became friends in elementary school. Our first band was called “Flam”. That was just me on keyboard and the drum machine and him on guitar and we would both sing and I think that tape is somewhere. I’m pretty sure I have it someplace, I wish I knew exactly where. But I’ve been pretty good at keeping most stuff, so I think that exists. Then eventually that band morphed into “Reverse Polarity”. Then we had a drummer, I believe I started playing bass at times but probably usually still played keyboard or piano. Around the same time as Reverse Polarity we used the name “Sam The Butcher’”. I did sing on one song and even tried to play drums, we kind of traded off instruments quite a bit. But that was the first band where we played shows or at parties, where people could come and see us play. I remember the first show very clearly and I couldn’t believe how exhausted I was afterwards, that was my main memory. It was a really chaotic and intense experience. It’s amazing how tired I was afterwards considering how much we’ve gone on, but you know, you build your endurance and your capacity as you go. That first show was such a huge moment just to get up and play music for other people.
AWKMusic: So Toby was one of your first best friends and then it went from “Slam” to “Reverse Polarity” to “Sam The Butcher”?
Andrew W.K.: Yea, yea more or less. By the time we were in high school we even played a show or two. Because I remember a flier that I drew that I made with our name on it along with some other bands from high school. So it lasted at least into my freshman year-somewhat. Then I think I went and did Lab Labotomy and that was sort of the end of my friendship with that band; Toby and Reverse Polarity and Sam The Butcher we kind of went our separate ways a little bit. We were still friends and on good terms and still are but that was sort of the first time I had met this new group of people which was Jaime Morales and Jim Magas and Aaron Dilloway.
Andrew Wilkes-Krier playing drums in Lab Labotomy
AWKMusic: Yea I can’t remember which song it was maybe “Bloop” or “Sibley’s”. At first I didn’t think it was you and then I realized it had to be you.
Andrew W.K.: Yea “Sibley’s” is the one I sang on. Yea wow, I was probably like 14 or 15.
AWKMusic: Oh wow you were that young?
Andrew W.K.: Yea at that time, yep it was right at the beginning of high school. It was probably even the summer before the first year of high school.
AWKMusic: Can you confirm if you were in “The Sucking Coeds”?
Andrew W.K.: That was really the name of a recording sessions of a group that was assembled by Tom Smith in Ann Arbor for just one day of recording really. It was then released a long time later. Yea I played some drums and organ maybe. It was a whole bunch of folks.
AWKMusic: So that was a recording of “To Live and Shave In L.A.” or it was its own thing?
Andrew W.K.: Tom gave it its own name. This is the first time I had met Tom Smith, I had already been a huge fan of “To Live and Shave In L.A.” and he had become friends with Aaron Dilloway. I think it was just sort of through the mail, or over the phone or something. Then Tom made plans to come to Ann Arbor just to record with us. I was so blown away, I can’t even really begin to try to sum up the many hours of memories. The basic plan was he was coming to Ann Arbor to record with Aaron and his friends. I was just beside myself that I was going to get to meet Tom Smith, let alone maybe get to play on this recording. He decided it would be called “Sucking Coeds” or “Miss High Heel”, that was another name that he was working with in some capacity. But I think “Miss High Heel” kinda belonged more to Jim Magas. Sometimes those can get crossed or confused. But yea, it sort of was like “To Live and Shave in L.A.” in a way, but it wasn’t the line-up that Tom had normally used. I think that’s why he gave it a different name. It was just him wanting to come and record with these young people in Ann Arbor.
AWKMusic: So you’ve also performed on some stuff with “To Live and Shave in L.A.” correct?
Andrew W.K.: Yes, years and years later, over ten years later. I got back in touch with Tom and asked if I could play with him again. That started a couple years of activity. It was much more recently.
AWKMusic: And you played drums?
Andrew W.K.: I played drums and keyboard.
AWKMusic: Ok cool I think that’s most of the bands that I know about. I know that you were in Wolf Eyes…
Andrew W.K.: I was in a very early version of Wolf Eyes. A lot of times these names, it’s sort of like the same group of people but in different orders. Like what’s the difference between Isis and Werewolves and Wolf Eyes or even Mini Systems? Or even the early version of Andrew W.K. or AAB or Hercules? It was this group of anywhere between 5 and 15 people that all did different things together from music to other kinds of projects like videos and artwork and clothes even. It was just a very tight group of creative friends. I’ve got to say, most of us are still in-touch if not still occasionally working together and some of them have never stopped working together. So it’s been very rewarding friendships.
AWKMusic: So you mentioned Mini Systems, I think that’s on a compilation you were on?
Andrew W.K.: I didn’t play in that version of it. I don’t think we ever released anything that I recorded on. Mini Systems was created by Tony Connelly, also known as Tony Miller or
“Dirty” Tony. He really came up with that with Nate Young so that was really their group for a long time. They were really good as always, they had amazing shows. There might even be videos on YouTube of that. Aaron definitely has a lot of Mini Systems videos. They might even be on one of the Hanson video compilations as well.
AWKMusic: There’s a release of Wolf Eyes that’s a split, it’s called “Wulf Eys/Andy W. Krier” and it’s released on Hanson and Meatball Records.
Andrew W.K.: Yes, yes I am familiar with that cassette, I have one somewhere. Again probably in the same box of tapes (I have so many tapes) someplace. I’m not even sure what the music is on there by either artist. I don’t know what my contribution is, it might not even be me, but I am familiar with that release.
AWKMusic: I don’t know for what reason but it’s spelled “Wulf Eys”.
Andrew W.K.: Yea I think the alternate spellings have something to do with designating the nature of those recordings. It could be possible that it was all just Aaron making the music, I’m not sure. He would be a much better one to ask as far as what’s on there.
AWKMusic: Is there any other bands that you can think of from this early era that I might not have mentioned?
Andrew W.K.: [thinks for awhile] No, not that we haven’t discussed or that I can think of.
AWKMusic: Here’s a question for ya, what has been your relationship between Fred Thomas and Westside Audio Laboratories?
Andrew W.K.: Yea, I met him at a show. OK, I think Jaime Morales, who was in Lab Labotomy and AAB and the Jazz band with me in high school. The guy who introduced me to Jim Magas in Couch. Jaime also had recordings by a band called “Chore” and it was really impressive to me. Just the way the recordings sounded, I really liked the songs and I was aware from what Jaime had said that this band and these guys lived in Ann Arbor or Ypsilanti or somewhere around us. Eventually there was a chance to go see them play and the show was at a venue called “Halfway In”. Which was sort of a University facility, sort of like a student center that had shows as well or it might have entirely been setup to have performances. We actually had quite a few shows there. It was a great place, it was right downtown on campus in Ann Arbor. I think the first time I went there, I don’t remember if I played or if I was just going to a show, but I definitely played shows at that place later. My only real strong memory this time when I met Fred, was that I had gone to the show there, Chore had played, I was really blown away, and somehow (probably because Jaime was less shy than I was) we ended up talking to Fred.
He was very, very, very nice. He had this really kind-hearted nature to him that had made him almost the nicest person that I had met at that point. I was really blown away. Because sometimes a lot of the people that I was hanging out with, I won’t even name names, but either I was intimidated by them, or I thought that maybe they were being mean, or they were mean, or unpredictable, or just sort of crazy. A lot of those people really were just crazy characters. They were hating in ways that made them seem even crazier, at least to me, I was just very easily freaked out. But never so freaked out that I wouldn’t still try to hang around them. It was more that I felt like I was on the out-skirts, like just this little kid who was just annoying all these big kids or adults. I just thought of them as adults I guess even though they were really just a couple years older than me, if not my same age. I mean, there were people hanging out that were 10, 15, maybe 20 years older because there was this music scene, so you would get all kinds of people. But in terms of the people around me, even though they were close to my age, they just seemed very far away and kind of mythic figures that I really just idolized.
Fred was the first person like that who was very, very, very nice. Just genuinely warm and easy to talk to and made me feel really comfortable. That had a huge impact on me, not just that he was nice but it also showed me how that’s how I would want anyone to treat me and how I should treat other people. Also at that point my role models and idols were sort of crazy in sort of a sociopathic way or a non-social way, that I thought was pretty cool. It was kind of this “punk” attitude where being mean or kind of nasty or weird was the coolest way you could be. Fred I really think, was one of the first people who inspired me with this totally different mind-set and attitude that was positive. I’ve never really thought about that until just now, I think he may have been one of the first people who presented the idea of just positivity to me at all. I had never really heard about positivity or even the straight-edge bands in punk that would end up talking about those ideas or positive mental attitudes. Or that you could even think different or even act different or choose to behave in a nice way. He really had a big impact not because he told me anything like that but just by watching how he lived and observing how he treated people. And then we became friends right away!
I saw his band Chore play many other times and other bands that he went to be in and he ended up living at my parents house when I was going to high school. He was even taking some class I think at my high school as a senior. Because he’s like two or three years older than me. So there was a point when he was even going to Community for some class or for something. It was all kind of strange, just the whole thing, it seems like a dream I can’t even believe that it happened. It was just bizarre, somehow he convinced my parents that he couldn’t live at his parents house anymore [laughs], so my mom said “OK well you can live at our house” and we had a guest bedroom on the third floor. There was plenty of room and he just lived there and it was awesome because—my best friend is now living in our house! It was really amazing and I even remember other friends saying “well can’t, can’t I live at your house too?”. It was just the best, we had so much fun hanging out all the time. It was sort of interesting because I guess it would have been like if you had an older brother or neighborhood friend. But I never really had friends around my town so much, like literally next door where you would hang out with them day-to-day. I have a younger brother and two older half-sisters who didn’t really grow up with me so I spent a lot of time alone. I remember once Fred was living in the upstairs room, there was always something going on.
There was always someone to hang out with or ask a question or laugh about something or even just watching TV was ten million times more funny. It was like having a roommate at a very early age where they had their own space but you still had your parents there. I think that’s what made it possible for me to have a really easy time with other roommates with traveling on the bus and living in close quarters. Realizing that it makes life just that much more fun when your friends are around all the time. I’ve just been very lucky with all the time that I’ve spent with friends like that and we never got on each others nerves which is really, really good.
So yea, then Fred and I recorded music, we had a rap group called “Coffinz”. Fred is a very, very good rapper, an incredible musician, an incredible guitar player, and can play drums extremely well. He really can play whatever he wants. I think he was even learning some wind instruments or something, he was playing clarinet at some point or something like that. But he’s also just very good at making up lyrics on the spot or making up melodies on the fly and just rhyming. So I would make drum beats and keyboard parts and he would rap over them. They were really good raps that I remember to this day, I remember tons of them. Fortunately, he’s kept track of them quite well and I have some too. But we recorded doing that stuff for years, almost every time we would get together we would just record some song and it was just a lot of fun and a lot of laughter.
We recorded on AAB’s “Bright Dole”, an album that I did which he released on his record label the Westside Audio Laboratories and he also had Ypsilanti Records—which he may still have going. He was the first one that put out some of my really, really, early, early recordings on this compilation called “Plant The Flower Seeds”. It was a compilation of early recordings by children anywhere between six and twelve. It was all his friends and musicians where he would take recordings from that time of their childhood and take one of their songs and put it on that compilation.
Then just other things here and there, I learned a lot from the time we spent recording. We used four-tracks. I was really learning how to record music and I still keep in touch with him and look forward to seeing him soon.
AWKMusic: Yea, he’s an awesome guy, I’ve bought a couple tapes off of him and he was really nice to me. So I can see what you’re talking about coming through.
Andrew W.K.: Absolutely, he’s amazing. He had a huge, huge and immeasurable impact on my life and on my way of looking at the world. Which is all you can to hope to have from any friend really. He made my life better that’s for sure.
AWKMusic: Awesome! That was super detailed and really good, thanks. I didn’t know he lived with you so I’m sure you have lots of stories.
Andrew W.K.: OK good, well that was just skimming the surface. Most of the stories I didn’t actually have at that time, I ended up spending a lot more time with him after he didn’t live with me. Like later on in high school when he worked at different jobs downtown. He lived in many different houses in Ann Arbor, it was always awesome. It’s always cool to see someone’s life move so fast, he’s always got something going on or always living someplace new. He moves around so much, if he’s not moving he’s touring. He’s very, very productive, hardworking and prolific.
THANK YOU TO ANDREW W.K. FOR DOING THESE AWESOME INTERVIEWS FOR US FANS!!!